In one of his last races before retiring, NASCAR driver Rusty Wallace meets with HVACR contractors invited by Emerson to a race weekend last fall in the Charlotte, N.C., area.
The recent start of the NASCAR season brought back memories of my trip last fall to one of the final events of the past season. It was at the Lowes Motor Speedway, near Charlotte, N.C., and I was with a number of refrigeration and air conditioning contractors invited for a weekend of education and entertainment hosted by Emerson Climate Technologies. We enjoyed a Busch series race on Friday night, took part in seminars through early Saturday afternoon (at which I presented a talk on refrigeration trends to contractors), then headed back to the speedway later that afternoon to meet now retired driver Rusty Wallace and watch a Nextel event that evening. Both races were viewed from a skybox and included a steady supply of food and drink.

The learning during the day included industry trends, business management ideas, and details on some of the newest products being introduced in the industry.

The point I'm making is that often times there needs to be some frills attached to training.

It doesn't have to be as elaborate as a race weekend. The monthly meetings of the local chapter of the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES) that I am a member of start with a complimentary dinner that could be pizza, pasta, chicken, beef, etc. The chapter segues from the dinner into the business meeting in order to get business matters out of the way early enough to give the speaker (usually a tech person from a manufacturer or a manufacturers rep) plenty of time to say what he or she wants to say and then answer questions - and then get the attendees on their way home early enough so they can be ready for any early service calls the next morning.


This industry is constantly stressing the need for qualified technicians and ongoing training. Frankly, there is plenty of training out there. For example, I wrote a story last year about the wide range of training courses and seminars offered by RSES. But I also noted the society was concerned about the turnout at many of those events.

So maybe the question to be asked is not "How do we get qualified technicians?" but "How do we get technicians plugged into all the training the industry already offers in order to make them qualified?"

Maybe it is as basic as some free pizza and soda; maybe it means a weekend with a lot of entertainment wrapped around the educational events. But the industry cannot assume a technician will come to a no-frills training session just because it is there. There has to be a bit more of a lure. And an industry that can come up with some of the extraordinary technologies we've seen over the years should be able to figure out what some really good lures could be.

Peter Powell, Refrigeration Editor, 847-622-7260, 847-622-7266 (fax),

Publication date: 03/06/2006